For those of us who love an addict, what is it that we want them to do? Topping our list is most certainly the desire that they stop drinking and/or stop using drugs. Then we can stop worrying about them, and stop worrying about what will happen to us if something terrible happens to them. We also want them to stop their embarrassing, if not criminal behavior. Reading the family name in the police call section of the newspaper, or getting a call from the county jail, is not a good time for anyone.
What we really want the addict to do is change. We want them to stop, and we want them to change. Only then can we resume our life and go back to the way things used to be; the way we want them to be.
But addiction in the family changes everything. Can we really go back? Can we go back to business as usual, back to the same family dynamic, back to the cocktail parties we once hosted, back to what may have been controlling behavior on our part?
We ask the addict to change, but what are we willing to do? We reason that the addict is the one with the problem, with the bad behavior, but we often fail to see our part in it. Plus, change is hard. Most people don’t change even when they need to, and often times not even then.
A line often quoted in 12-Step recovery meetings says it all. “If nothing changes, nothing changes.” First coined by Earnie Larsen, a nationally known author and speaker on addiction, he brilliantly speaks to the necessity of change to, well, bring about change.
It isn’t just the addict who needs to change. Those of us who love an addict need to change too. And the effects can be crazy weird when we do. Sometimes the addict begins to change when we do. Change changes everything.
Please share with me, and others, the changes that you’ve made: